Having already committed some smaller-sized patrol ships to the Philippines, Japan has now agreed to provide more patrol ships as well as surveillance aircraft. Both the countries are embroiled in a spat with China over maritime claims – Japan over the East China Sea and the Philippines over the South China Sea.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte both met in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, on Tuesday, 6 September, where they agreed to strengthen ties between the two nations to seek a peaceful resolution to the maritime disputes with China, Koichi Hagiuda, Japanese deputy chief cabinet secretary, said.

The new agreement includes two large-sized patrol ships and up to five used surveillance aircraft, the Japanese official was cited as saying by Reuters. In August, Tokyo decided to send to Manila new 90m (295ft) multi-role response vessels and 10 44-metre (144ft) mid-sized coastguard ships to help keep a watch over the disputed waters.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Duterte met on 11 August and agreed on the deal, which was thought to be worth 8.8bn Philippine pesos (£141, $188m).

China claims its rights over most of the South China Sea, but the Philippines, Vietnam Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also claim rights over the waters, through which around $5tn trade passes every year. Japan has disputed China's claims over some islets in the East China Sea.

While all the disputing countries want China to respect the sovereign rights over the seas, the communist nation has continued its military and naval presence in the disputed waters and the islands. Recently, the Philippines expressed concerns over the presence of more than usual Chinese ships near the disputed Scarborough Shoal.

South China Sea dispute
Japan has agreed to provide more patrol ships to the Philippines amid growing tensions over the South China Sea dispute with China - File photo Reuters